I’m taking a short break from my Building a Business series because I have other things I’d like to write about. The series will be back, but until then…

I remember looking at my feet and feeling how hot my toes were inside my shoes. My heels felt hot, too. I wasn’t even sure my shoes had bottoms anymore. My breathing was in rhythm with my footsteps, slow and steady. My knees were aching and my calves were tight. My thighs were on the verge of cramping for what might have been hours.

With every step forward, I worked hard to fight off the incessant thoughts of doubt and quitting. 8 miles left. All I wanted to do was fall down on the ground and not move a muscle. It’s all I could think about. Even at this point, I wasn’t sure I would make it all the way. The finish line seemed like a hazy, distant, uncertain dream.

I ran my first marathon in October, 2014. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t train nearly enough for it, and I had no idea what to expect. Despite the snippet of the story above, I finished the marathon. All 26.2 miles of it. Here’s a picture of me after the race:

It wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve done because of my physical unpreparedness, but because of the mental battle that took place during the race.

Around mile 16, my body was in pain. It was sending signals to my brain telling me to stop moving my legs. I had to consciously ignore those signals and try to think of something else so the pain wouldn’t be so prominent in my mind. But the pain is so piercing that even when I won the mental battle and ignored it, it came back just as strong within seconds.

There’s not much else to think about. Multiple times each minute, I had to fight and win the battle against my screaming body.

This went on for almost two hours. I used every water station as an excuse to stop for 5 precious seconds, even though starting back up was harder than if I just kept going. I walked several times, but I never stopped. My mind and body were simultaneously pushed far past what I thought their limits were.


For most of my life I believed running a marathon was physically impossible. Whenever the topic of running came up in conversation, I would proclaim myself as “not a runner.” I didn’t believe I had the ability to run 26.2 miles at once. It was hard enough bringing myself to run 2 or 3.

Something interesting happened when I paid for my marathon registration. The fuzzy dream instantly turned into a clear, inevitable reality. There’s something funny about deciding and committing that shifts the way you view things. That moment of decisiveness turned the thing I always believed was impossible into something that I absolutely knew would happen.

Committing comes in many different forms. It could happen when you pay for a marathon registration, or when you announce your intention publicly, or when you write down a definitive statement. But all of those things are not committing, they only trigger the feeling of committing.

Committing creates a visceral shift in your psychology. It makes you take yourself seriously. It makes you train for your marathon even on the days you hate running. It makes you write blog posts every day even on the days you have nothing to say and don’t want to write anything. It adds self-discipline. It extends the limits of your mind and body. It makes the impossible possible.

I wonder what else I want to do that I haven’t fully committed to yet.